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Recipes

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)
  • Store-bought Graham Cracker Crust
  • Whipped Cream or Cool Whip (topping)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer on medium to combine all ingredients except the eggs. Note: the cream cheese must be softened or it will not combine smoothly.
  3. When ingredients are fully combined, add eggs and gently mix until blended. Do not over mix.
  4. Pour into crust
  5. Bake until center is close to set, about 40 minutes.
  6. Turn off oven and let cool with the door slightly cracked.
  7. Once cooled, refrigerate pie for several hours.
  8. Serve with whipped cream.

 

Not a pumpkin/cheesecake fan? Click the link –> CRISPY CARAMEL APPLE PIE to see our delicious apple pie with crumble topping recipe!

Home Hack

Next Level Leftovers

Thanksgiving can often mean lots of leftovers. We’ve got a few ideas for reinventing the reheat in this month’s Home Hack.

SIMPLE AND FAST OPTIONS

“Thanksgiving Sandwich Style” Using: Toast, Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry, Mayonnaise, Gravy

Make it: This one is our favorite. Select a bread that toasts well, like small ciabatta loaves or Texas-style slices. Spread mayonnaise on one side of the bread. On the other side of the bread, spread cranberry sauce. Layer in leftover turkey, and top with stuffing. Toast in oven, panini press, or pan. Serve with a small side of gravy for dipping or topping.

Pro Tip: If using a pan to toast a sliced bread sandwich, use a minimal spread of mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich instead of butter. It spreads evenly so easily and toasts the bread perfectly!

“Turkey Salad Style” Using: Turkey, Mayonnaise, Celery, Honey, Red Grapes

Make it: This is a sweet turkey salad. Cube or loosely shred leftover turkey. Half red grapes and dice celery. Combine everything with light mayonnaise. Add in honey, salt, and pepper to taste. Gently mix in the red grape halves. Garnish with a small dash of poppy seeds and/or dried minced onions, if desired. Serve with crackers, on a bed of lettuce, or make into sandwiches.

“Turkey Taco Style” Using: Turkey, cheese, toppings…

Make it: Shred or slice leftover turkey into small strips and cook with taco seasoning packet. Make tacos or nachos!

OPTIONS THAT TAKE A LITTLE MORE TIME

“Burst Pasta Style” Using: Linguini, Cherry Tomatoes, Vegetables, Broth, Parmesan

Make it: Cook fresh linguini (or boxed pasta if preferred), reserve the pasta water after cooking. At the same time, in a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil with a few cloves of fresh minced garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add a 1/2 pint of halved cherrie tomatoes, cook for additional minute. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, OR reserved pasta water if you don’t have broth. Cook tomatoes until “burst,” which looks wilted. You can stop there, or add in other leftover veggies like kale, spinach, mushrooms, etc. Add bite-sized pieces of leftover turkey heat until the turkey is properly reheated. Add in some reserved pasta water as desired to loosen mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss  cooked pasta in with the mixture and a pad of butter. Top with parmesan.

Pro Tip: Mix in a tablespoon or two of cream cheese in the liquid of the cooked vegetable mixture to make it a creamier sauce.

“Skewers Style” Using: Turkey, Vegetables

Make it: Compose skewers with chunks of leftover turkey and vegetables. Most vegetables work; cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, potatoes, and carrots, all work and are often plentiful leftovers on relish trays. Roast skewers in oven or on grill for a few minutes. Serve plain skewers with gravy on the side for dipping OR brush cooked skewers with Italian dressing for a different flavor profile.

“Soup Style” Using: Turkey, Vegetables, Broth

Make it: In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil with a few cloves of fresh minced garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in a few cups of broth (make your own if you like) and vegetables. We like carrots, celery, diced onions, potatoes, and shredded turkey. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few sprigs of leftover spices from the stuffing like fresh thyme and/or rosemary sprigs. Cook on med-low until cooked through. Remove thyme and rosemary sprigs and serve.

“Turkey Cowboy Skillet Style” Using: Turkey, Carrots, Peas, Mushrooms, Gravy, Canned Biscuits, Cream of Mushroom Soup

Make it: Heat a drizzle of olive oil in pan with some fresh minced garlic until fragrant, about one minute. If using raw onions and carrots; chop, add, and cook until softened. Add shredded turkey, peas, mushroom, even green beans, and cook until warmed up. Mix in gravy (OR cream of mushroom soup), adding small amounts of leftover broth or water to loosen the mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and leftover fresh spices like thyme or rosemary to taste. Transfer mixture to an oven-save dish. Top mixture with biscuits, keeping the biscuits away from the edge of the dish. Cook in oven until biscuits are golden. Brush melted butter (or melted butter with minced garlic if you prefer) over the biscuits and serve in bowls.

How do you like your Thanksgiving leftovers? We want to know! Share with us in the comments of our posts for this Home Hack on Facebook or Instagram.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Home Hack

Let’s PAWS for PETS!

The best part of being “home” is spending time with our beloved pets! That’s why we’re sharing all of our favorite pet finds in this month’s Home Hack. We found most of our favorite items were available on Amazon, so we will share those pics with their stars rating below.

For the Dogs:

If you have big dogs like us, you know it’s hard finding toys that stand up to their level of play. These are our hearty favorites, and they’re bacon scented!

These balls are great for medium sized dogs, and the ball launcher has a variety of ball sizes available for a variety of dog sizes.

For dogs with storm sensitivities or other anxieties (like fireworks), these chews have been a miracle!

An honorable mention for calming vests. Ideal for the less anxious, but occasionally nervous dogs.

This shampoo by Jax-N-Daisy (jaxndaisy.com) keeps our pups fresh and itch-free.

Memory foam beds for dogs support their spine and joints just like it does for people. Don’t they look comfy?!

Speaking of support, we’ve used this joint supplement for years.

For the Cats:

This litter is hands down, the BEST litter we have ever used. Low dust and no smell, you can’t ask for more!

A Litter Genie is a MUST for cat owners. It might not seem worth it, but it makes clean up and disposal so easy. You’ll thank us later!

This little toy is so simple it looks like nothing, but cats absolutely love them!

For Pets of All Kinds:

Celebrate your pet and decorate your home at the same time with a pet portrait! We found several affordable shops online that make paintings and decor with a simple photo of your pet. For example, “MonicaACreates” is a shop we found on Etsy through a quick search, who is right here in Central Florida. What a great gift idea too!

Or get a minimalist locket, from “BijounBoutique” (also on Etsy) that holds a photo of your pet inside a little gem! You can look in, use your phone camera, or phone flashlight to reveal the image. Comes in necklaces and keychains. Also makes a great gift!

 

Do you have any favorite pet products? We want to hear about them! Please share your finds with us by commenting them on any of our pet posts this month on Instagram or Facebook.

(Also found on Amazon)

… and be sure to tell your dog we said “hi!”

Recipes

Crock Pot Caramel Apple Bar

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz (Approx. 2 pound bag) caramel squares
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8-9 Granny Smith or Pink Lady Apples (Or any of the more tart apple types.)
  • Optional: 1 Large Bag of Chocolate Chips (for adding a second coat, if desired)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Apple Sticks or Popsicles Sticks
  • Toppings of choice: Sprinkles, Chocolate Chips, Crushed Pretzels, Peanut Butter Chips, Toffee Pieces, Sweetened Shredded Coconut, Cereals like Rice Crispies, Graham Cracker Dust, Decorative Sugars, Finely Chopped Nuts, Crushed Candy Bars like Butterfingers – the sky is the limit!

Directions:

  1. Prepare your apples ahead of time by washing them in hot water, and then placing in the fridge for a few hours or over night. Skewer your apples before dipping.
  2. Unwrap your billion squares of caramel and place in small crockpot with 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Melt until combined, then be sure to set the crock pot to low or warm to prevent scorching.
  3. Dip cold apples in the caramel, place apples on wax paper to set.
  4. If coating with melted chocolate: place caramel apples in fridge for at least 10 minutes before coating in chocolate. Dip in chocolate, then immediately in toppings before returning the finished apples to parchment, then to the fridge.
  5. If coating caramel apples with toppings only: after caramel apple has set for a few minutes, roll the apples in your toppings. Set decorated apples back on wax paper, and place finished apples in fridge to fully set up.

Pro Tips:

  • If apples seem too large or time consuming to create: cut the apples into large slices or wedges. To prevent browning: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Soak slices for 3 minutes. Place slices on paper towels to dry and then place in fridge to get cold before dipping. Note: You can also soak slices in lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up instead.
  • Use small bowls to make dipping/rolling your apples in toppings quick and easy.
  • To make apples even fancier: use spoons to drizzle different melted chips (milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, etc.) on your apples after your toppings.

Store your gourmet apple creations in the fridge.

HAPPY CARMEL APPLE SEASON!

Curb Appeal

Halloween Home

This year, it seems everyone is ready to celebrate Halloween earlier than ever. We found plenty of options to decorate your yard in a flash on trusty ol’ Amazon.

Create a spooky scene with orange, green, or purple lights and a cool image projection show:

Decorate the porch with some witchy hats or ghostly windsocks:

 

While you’re there, add festive banners to the doorway:

Fashion a giant spider web that will be sure to gather some ganders:

Line your paths with a few jack-o-lantern stakes, or backlight some witchy silhouettes and faux grave stones:

Got leaves? Turn them into decorations:

Make your yard stand out instantly with giant inflatables:

SIMPLE DIY: If you’re not a fan of carving up your pretty pumpkins, try using black removable adhesive vinyl to cut out jack-o-lantern faces. Then gently remove after Halloween for perfect porch pumpkins.

How will you celebrate the spookiest season of the year? Share your decorated yards with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Home Hack

Chalk Paint for Fresh FARMHOUSE Style

Chalk paint is great for upcycling a piece of furniture that’s dated or doesn’t match your new style, but functions so well you’d hate to toss it. It’s even better for flea market finds that have all the functionality you need, but looks a little rough.

What type of furniture works?

The easiest pieces to use chalk paint on is furniture made with real wood. But there are several brands of paint that will work on glass, metal, wood, ceramic, canvas, etc. So you can have fun making matching accent items to coordinate with your refreshed furniture.

What style is chalk paint?

The results with this paint are going to be shabby chic, think farmhouse vibes, coastal, beachy, lived in. Expect to see paint strokes, it’s all part of the appeal and look for this painting style.

Okay! Let’s Paint!

Start by removing drawer pulls and/or taping off hardware and areas you don’t want painted. Spray painting the old hardware can be a great way to update without investing in new pulls. However, new pulls can help to modernize or theme (Example: Going for a coastal look? Try nautical pulls!) your freshly painted creation. We found these options on Amazon:

Once the hardware is removed, you’ll want to lightly sand* the surface so that the paint has something to grab on to.

PRO TIP: * Furniture prep and painting is best to do in a well-ventilated area. We prefer outdoors in the shade. Use a mask and protective eye wear to protect against saw dust particles and fumes.

The paint: Now choose a paint/color! When in doubt choose a neutral color, or a color that matches your walls. This Rustoleum “Chalked” brand chalk paint has never let us down. It’s available at home improvement stores, but we got ours on Amazon. The matte finish is perfect for a true chalk paint look.

You may also want to invest in a brush specifically made for chalk paint. These round brushes just work better with this paint process. Additionally, art brushes are great for the small areas.

Chalk painting is a process, so expect to spend some time. Concentrate on painting your piece in layers, rather than rushing to cover everything in one coat. Make choices on where you want to see the paint strokes (fewer layers) vs where you want the paint to be soild (more layers). Use a light hand and long brush movements (follow the grain) and let the layers dry for several minutes between coats so that you get the maximum adhesion.

Wax: After your piece has dried. Lot’s of people wax (with a chalk-paint-specific wax) their pieces to protect the finish. This slightly darkens the color, but protects the paint. Lightly brush the chalk paint wax on and wipe it off with a lint free cloth scrap after to keep the matte look.

PRO TIP: “Annie Sloan” is a great resource for searching how-to chalk paint videos on YouTube. She also has an entire line of chalk paint in super fun colors!

WE WANT TO SEE YOUR CHALK PAINTED MASTERPIECES! Share your before and after chalk paint projects with us so we can brag about your skills on our social media!

Recipes

“Say Cheese” and Ham Sliders

These little slider sandwiches are so versatile and scrumptious, they can be made for 2 or 10+ people with relatively the same amount of time and effort. They’re simple to make too, and perfect for campfire nights, parties, and family gatherings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Hawaiian style sweet dinner rolls, 24 rolls total
  • 1.5 lbs ham slices (Virginia (country) ham, dinner style, or even deli style ham works)
  • 12 slices of Swiss or Muenster cheese
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  • Carefully slice the whole tray of dinner rolls so there is a top and bottom. Ideally, without separating the rolls.
  • Place roll bottoms in 9 x13 cake pans, as your first layer.
  • Layer the ham and cheese on top of the roll bottoms.
  • Place roll tops on the sandwiches
  • In a sauce pan, melt butter and mix in the onion, poppy seeds, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce
  • Generously brush the tops of the sandwiches with the butter mixture.
  • Cover sandwiches and refrigerate over night or for at least one hour.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Be sure to watch the sandwiches so they do not burn.

Yum! Enjoy!

 

Curb Appeal

Mailbox Refresh

Does an old weathered mailbox got your curb looking drab? Time for a refresh!

Start first by selecting a spray paint developed for exterior use and the type of mailbox you have. We had a sun-bleached brown plastic mail box, and found this spray paint by Behr, at the Home Depot (pictured here).

Our experience: This Behr indoor/outdoor spray paint was easy to work with and had good coverage. It came in a variety of modern colors, has corrosion protection, and states it adheres to “wood, metal, plastic, and more”. (We used it on plastic.) It has been several months now and our mailbox still looks shiny and new!

Note: Some paints will not cure properly in certain weather conditions. Different spray tips may have different prep instructions. Even if you’ve spray painted before, be sure to read the label for use and safety instructions BEFORE painting.

NOW, GRAB YOUR SAFETY GEAR AND HEAD OUTSIDE TO PAINT THAT MAILBOX!

  1. For maximum results, remove any stickers (like vinyl box numbers).
  2. Use newspaper and painter’s tape to snuggly protect any other areas you don’t want painted. Think prime areas for over-spray, like the red mailbox flag and the post. Stand the covered flag up before you start to paint, ensuring no paper or tape is touching areas to be spray painted. PRO TIP: Spray paint particles will drift in the air. Do not spray paint near cars, walls, or anything that you don’t want to accidentally mist.
  3. Read your paint’s label and follow the instructions. Prep your can as the label indicates, and do a small test spray on a scrap piece of newspaper or cardboard. You want a clean even flow with the paint. No spattering.
  4. Spray the box in long continuous strokes, keeping at least 6″ away from the mailbox. (If you spray too close, or for too long in any area, it creates runs and drips.)
  5. Let the box dry for about 30 minutes between coats.
  6. When the box is completely dry, remove the tape and newspaper.

SPRAYING IN A CONTINUOUS MOVEMENT IS THE KEY TO AN EVEN, PROFESSIONAL LOOKING FINISH.

I concentrated on the box part first, keeping the door open, and using a piece of cardboard to shield the edges to keep from spraying inside the box. After that dried, (about 2 hours) I loosely closed the door and spray painted it.

I left the box open over night to make sure nothing got stuck. I also put a little note in there that said “CAUTION: WET PAINT” incase the mail carrier got there early.

VOILA! A better-than-new mailbox!